Film Room: Ryan Shazier Shows Irreplaceable Sideline Speed

In the wake of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Sunday loss to the Bears, one of the players that has been most in the crosshairs has been inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who indeed had some negative plays, including a handful of missed tackles. But he also made several plays of his own.

This wasn’t one of them, early in the game on a first-and-10 run. But he is in part just trying not to be caught inside by the pulling lineman, with nobody to replace him. This is an example of an instance in which the Steelers should have had a safety in the box.

Another play later on the drive shows what Shazier can bring to the table. His speed allowed him to cross gaps and chase down the running back on first and goal after gaining just one yard.

It’s something that we saw him do several times throughout the game, and is, frankly, the reason that the Steelers drafted him. His sideline-to-sideline coverage is unparalleled at his position. Not a lot of linebackers can make this play.

Time and again his speed was evident, and it also shows up in his ability to avoid blocks, which comes in handy on screens. Though this play was on second and 29, it’s still notable in preventing a bigger gain to set up a manageable third-down situation. He ended up making the tackle then, too, after another screen pass for 10 yards.

It doesn’t just have to be linemen working up to the second level. He embarrassed the Bears’ fullback by slipping past him and stripping the ball from the running back, recovering the ball himself. All because he couldn’t be reached.

Here is just another example of what he was doing throughout the day. Shazier had a number of run stops, which might be hard to remember, unfortunately, because of the way that the game turned out.

He wasn’t thrown off by the misdirection on this run late in the second half, stringing the runner out to the perimeter before bringing him down for a loss.

This is not intended to be a representative sample of Shazier’s body of work in the game overall, but rather a demonstration of his abilities and what he can bring to the table that a replacement player could not match. Certainly, he made his mistakes in the game, but he is getting more flak than his performance merited.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Steve

    Really like how the Steelers D runs to the ball carrier, like a swarm of Bee’s.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    This is the stuff that says DPotY. But is has been too frequently scattered with missed tackles and overrunning plays. He is getting into the years where it is time for his mind and body to come together on the same level.

  • Nathanael Dory

    You mean loss ”to the bears”

  • John Smith

    Except he’s always missing tackles.

  • I4giveSteelers

    we have to make it right,” Pouncey said Wednesday afternoon. “I honestly think we will go out there and make it right.”

    Pouncey, an eight-year veteran and five-time
    Pro Bowl selection, was the first Steelers player to say the entire
    roster will be standing for the anthem. On Monday, quarterback Ben
    Roethlisberger said the team would be on the field after players
    remained inside a tunnel last Sunday when the anthem was played at
    Soldier Field.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Thanks for sharing these positive plays MM. I have to say, my hopes for Shazier becoming an all world linebacker have waned somewhat. He seemed to miss often against the Bears. Can’t adjust to jukes at those speeds.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I don’t think he’s going to get better. This is it. There are moments of great athletics with mixed in misses and overplays. It’s really not changing at all.

    Pro Bowl is a possibility, not DPOY.

  • colingrant

    His speed has him flying past people on missed tackles, but I’ll take that as the downside, as the upside (speed) has him making a lot of plays most inside backers wouldn’t. Advantage speed, even with the overruns,

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yeah, and as I wrote about last year, even the plays on which he makes contact but doesn’t make the tackle himself tend to be positive plays for the offense. They create disruption and allow other defenders to get to the ball and make the play. Many of the tackles that he ‘misses’ are ones that most other linebackers would never be in position to attempt.

  • MC

    I’ve always been a big fan of Shazier. I know a lot of ppl point to the miss tackles and they are a problem but the reason Im not as critical as many over his performance is because of three things.
    1. many times he is in position to disrupt the pathway of a runner, often times in the backfield which allows another defender to make the tackle by disrupting the timing/route of the runner should he miss it.
    2. He gives his full effort and plays with a lot of fire, he just needs to learn when and how to control it at times. I like the fact he plays with such aggression and competitiveness however.
    3. He is the biggest x factor on this defense for creating turnovers. We saw a fumble in the bears game(even though it was a touchy call) we’ve seen him come up big with INTs and I will never forget the bengals playoff fumble he took from Jeremy Hill. Therefore in my eyes its easy to live with a miss tackle here and there if the chances of creating a turnover is significantly increased with him on the field. Lets not forget this team struggled with creating turnovers for years not too long ago.

  • GoSteelerz

    Now, if he only had irreplaceable tackling dependability… He’s still in the early stages of his career, hopefully he’ll improve… Because we need him to.

  • jsteeler

    Shazier has led the team in Tackles. He can’t make them all.

  • John Smith

    he’s not making as many as the top ILBs, but ok. Whatever. Keep settling for mediocrity